It was fast approaching Christmas and Saturday the 23rd of December marked the beginning of my Winter Vacation. I wasn’t jetting off anywhere; instead, I was going to enjoy some me time as well as some quality time with my Seoul mate. So, at 10:24am we jumped on the subway bound for Gangnam as I had an appointment with ME Clinic and my boyfriend was coming along so that he could hold my hand and translate for me as necessary.
12:00pm: We arrived at ME Clinic which was thankfully very easy to locate. There was an English translator as I assumed there would be and she told us to take a seat. The clinic was much smaller than I anticipated; my previous Gangnam experiences had been in large, shiny spaces with lots of beautiful people adorned in high end branded clothing. This, however, was Waygookin central and there wasn’t a Louis Vuitton purse in sight. After a short wait, I was called into a tiny consultation room to discuss the treatments I was considering. After some back and forth between myself, the translator and the dermatologist I was going ahead with Synergy laser treatment for my face (x5 sessions), laser hair removal (x5 sessions), mole removal (sessions needed TBC) and finally an Aqua Peel. Both the first session of mole removal and the Aqua peel were complimentary. Firstly, I underwent the laser hair removal which was quick and entirely painless. Secondly, I underwent the Synergy treatment and my god, did that hurt. I was very close to tears for the entirety of the procedure. Finally, my mole was shot with a laser beam which was not quick and not painless; this was not for the faint-hearted (like me). Finally, I was soothed with an Aqua peel which calmed my burning skin and enabled me to contemplate on whether, at the age of 26, I had left it too late to rescue my skin. After about an hour and a half, my Gangnam experience was over, my skin didn’t look any better, but I had managed to obtain the fashionable Korean glass skin trend, lucky me. My boyfriend was advised he could not hold my hand for any of my treatments so he left to find a gym to spend the time this was going to take.
2pm: I found said gym and my boyfriend advised me he’d just had a photo shoot with the owner and that now we could take couple photos. I was not feeling especially beautiful as my shiny face hurt, my lower back also hurt where they’re burnt off my helpless mole and I had no make-up on.
“Don’t worry, I’ll photoshop your face” the gym owner kindly advised me as I threw up the ‘V’ and smiled robotically as he joyfully exclaimed:
The gym owner was less than impressed with my performance and asked my boyfriend why I was so stiff, just the confidence boost I needed. My boyfriend told him that I was not feeling well and after a few more fake smiles and forced poses he gave up and let me reside in my natural habitat; my head in a book far away from the protein powder and the unforgiving DSLR. He offered me coffee which I politely declined and I sat reading ‘Without You, There Is No Us’ until my boyfriend reappeared. We bid the owner and receptionist farewell and a Merry Christmas and headed on our way. Only in Gangnam could I have cosmetic treatments whilst simultaneously my boyfriend posed for a bodybuilding photo shoot, talk about Gangnam style.
2:30pm: after quickly remembering that we weren’t part of the Gangnam elite we hit McDonald’s for some cheap, fast grub and tasteless coffee.
3pm: We decided to enjoy the fresh air and take a walk to the nearby Coex mall and the adjacent Bongeunsa Temple. First of all, we visited the Buddhist temple which is more than 1,200 years old. Bongeunsa seems so out of place nestled in the centre of all these modern skyscrapers and yet the contrast between its historical architecture and that of the futuristic buildings which surround it seemed oddly harmonious. As with any temple, there were two types of people there, those who had come to worship and those who had come to take photos to post on social media. We, I suppose, were the latter however our photography was a little more covert than some of the photo shoots we saw taking place courtesy of other foreigners.
4pm: Within a few minutes we had walked from the past into the future (well, futuristic present) as we entered the Coex Mall. This is the largest underground shopping mall in Asia boasting over 200 retail outlets and is over 165,000 meters squared. Much like the infamous Lotte World Tower, it’s more than just a shopping mall; there’s a cinema, an aquarium and even a Kimchi Museum. Despite all this, the most breathtaking part of the mall is the library; it’s like something out a fairytale. It’s similar to the library from Beauty and the Beast in Adam’s castle except in place of dust and wooden bookcases there are lights and metal and more plug sockets than the University of Essex could ever dream of installing. It is a thing of beauty. Whilst some people study there, others browse the shelves yet it is in true Korean style that the majority of visitors have their phone of selfie mode capturing this moment the only way they know how. Did you even visit the mall if you didn’t take a selfie of yourself visiting the mall? As we were leaving we chanced upon a brass band playing Christmas songs with great enthusiasm, it was pretty magical and we listened for 10 minutes before taking the long subway ride home.
7.30pm: Once back in Dongducheon we drove to the shops in search of Christmas supplies. I was hoping to stumble upon mince pies (hahaha) whilst my boyfriend’s aim was to get this shopping business over as quickly as possible. Within an hour the quest for mince pies had ceased and in its place we’d purchased Champagne to pop together on Christmas Day. Finally, we headed to one of our favourite Korean BBQ restaurants for dinner where we ate everything in sight as well as sipping on some Makgeolli.
So, if you’ve ever wondered how I spend my Saturday’s, this is it. That being said, Sunday’s are always reserved for eating large American breakfasts and binge watching The Walking Dead.